Planned oil and gas-related projects in the United States could release up to 227 million tons (mmt) of additional greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution by the end of 2025, representing a 30% rise from the 764 mmt emitted by the industry in 2018, according to a new report by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP).
The figure is based on 157 projects “that have final permits or applications,” of which about half are in Texas or Louisiana, EIP said Wednesday. The projects pertain to “companies that extract or refine oil and gas, export liquefied natural gas (LNG), or manufacture petrochemicals, plastics, or fertilizers…”
The 227 mmt figure is equal to the emissions of about 50 coal-fired power plants, EIP said, noting that emissions growth from 2020-2025 would be led by LNG export projects.
EIP said eight LNG terminals in the U.S. released 7 mmt of GHG in 2018, a more than 10-fold increase from 2016.
“An additional 18 new LNG export sea terminals and one inland facility are planned by 2025 that could emit up to 80 million more tons annually -- a potential 100-fold increase over a decade.”
Proposed expansions of petrochemical and plastics plants, meanwhile, “could raise emissions by another 64 mmt annually -- a potential 80% increase -- by the end of 2025,” EIP said.
“Ammonia fertilizer plants, which use natural gas as a primary ingredient, released 40 million tons of greenhouse gases in 2018, up from 31 million tons in 2016. That total could expand by another third, to 53 million tons, within five years.”
The report also documented an 8%, or 57 mmt, rise in GHG emissions from the industry from 2016-2018, with oil and gas drilling accounting for the largest share, at 26 mmt.
Second place went to “other petroleum and natural gas systems, including pipelines and compressor stations, which saw a 9 million ton, or 5%, increase” during the period.
The messaging war around the climate impact of oil and gas has been intensifying, as pressure grows on politicians to take action on the climate crisis.
The American Petroleum Institute this week launched a nationwide ad campaign “highlighting the natural gas and oil industry’s leadership in reducing emissions to record low levels and supporting economic and environmental progress in local communities.”
“Each day our industry is focused on lowering emissions, increasing efficiency, and furthering environmental progress,” API President Mike Sommers said Tuesday at an annual State of American Energy event in Washington. “The size and scope of the climate challenge requires a tremendous response and innovation from everyone.”
He also cited the work of API’s Environmental Partnership, launched in 2017, “to convene, share, and design new methods for reducing methane emissions.”
In a report released last month highlighting the potential economic impact of banning hydraulic fracturing, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute said, “Since 2005, the increased use of natural gas has helped reduce U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by more than 2.8 billion metric tons, roughly the equivalent of annual emissions from Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany and the United Kingdom combined.”